28 October 2021
In conversation with CEO of Shannon Trust, Ian Merrill, at our recent webinar attendees discussed basic literacy amongst people in prison, and the approach to this issue in the criminal justice system.
‘Learning to read can be the starting point of building a new, non-offending identity.’
The level of literacy amongst people in prison, and those leaving custody, is unacceptably high. Issues with illiteracy highlighted by Ian include:
Pre-COVID, 89% of Shannon Trust learners went on to formal education.
‘As a society we value reading… it’s an essential life tool.’
Low levels of literacy often correlate with poor experiences of education. Ian emphasised the importance of introducing education and literacy in creative ways and comfortable environments, with incentives and accessibility:
‘We should be aiming to see basic literacy prioritised across the prison estate, because it is so foundational to so many other things.’
The conversation opened to the audience, for an interactive discussion on the current landscape, upcoming challenges in prison education, and ideas for strategic focuses to overcome these.
© Prisoner Learning Alliance 2023